Lord knows what I have done
And the lamb... lies down... on Broadway!"
After the commercial and critical success of Selling England by the Pound and its accompanying tour in Europe and North America, the band booked a three-month retreat in Headley Grange. Although it was a tough ordeal, not helped by the decrepit condition the workhouse was left in at the time and Peter Gabriel's estrangement with the band through his then-wife Jill going through a difficult pregnancy at the time, they decided on a double-album that would tell a concept storynote . Gabriel pitched a plot about a young half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City named Rael, embarking on a surreal journey of self-discovery through a dream world. It was after the allocated time in Headley Grange that they mixed and recorded the album in Wales, and Gabriel enlisted the assistance of Brian Eno for two of the tracks by way of synthesized vocal treatments.
Around release of the album, Genesis played on a supporting tour in North America and Europe, playing the entire album and only doing a couple old material songs as an encore. It wasn't all rosy however, since the equipment and effects had been faulty from time to time, including the infamous Slipperman costume where Peter Gabriel found it hard to breathe or insert the microphone. Also, he informed the rest of the band that he was planning to leave at the conclusion of the tournote , which was 22 May 1975 in Besançon, France. The departure led to a drive to get a new frontman, with Phil Collins happy to just have the group be an instrumental band before being persuaded to take the reins for A Trick of the Tail. Gabriel himself would reemerge a couple years later, starting his solo career with his first self-titled album.
Reviews and sales at the time were lukewarm, but over time it had garnered retrospective praise and a significant following, to a degree that it became certified Gold in the United States by 1990. Even after the departure of Peter Gabriel, the band played material from the album in concerts, especially the likes of "In the Cage" and "The Carpet Crawlers". Not only was it seen as one of Genesis' best albums, but it consistently was seen as one of the best progressive rock albums. As of 2020, it is ranked #522 in Acclaimed Music's most critically-acclaimed lists of all time.
Disc OneSide One
- "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (4:55)
- "Fly on a Windshield" (2:47)
- "Broadway Melody of 1974" (1:58)
- "Cuckoo Cocoon" (2:14)
- "In the Cage" (8:15)
- "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" (2:45)
- "Back in N.Y.C." (5:49)
- "Hairless Heart" (2:25)
- "Counting Out Time" (3:45)
- "The Carpet Crawlers" (5:16)
- "The Chamber of 32 Doors" (5:40)
Disc TwoSide Three
- "Lilywhite Lilith" (2:40)
- "The Waiting Room" (5:28)
- "Anyway" (3:18)
- "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist" (2:50)
- "The Lamia" (6:57)
- "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" (3:06)
- "The Colony of Slippermen" (8:14)
- a) "The Arrival"
- b) "A Visit to The Doktor"
- c) "Raven"
- "Ravine" (2:05)
- "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" (3:32)
- "Riding the Scree" (3:56)
- "In the Rapids" (2:24)
- "it." (4:58)
- Tony Banks - keyboard, organ, piano, mellotron, synthesizer
- Phil Collins - drums, percussion, vocals, vibraphone
- Peter Gabriel - lead vocals, flute, oboe, tambourine, sound effects
- Steve Hackett - guitar
- Mike Rutherford - bass, guitar, bass pedals
It's the grand parade of lifeless troping, all ready to use:
- Advancing Wall of Doom: A literal wall which descends on Times Square and begins moving toward Rael.There's something solid forming in the air
The wall of death is lowered in Times Square
- Aerith and Bob: Rael and his brother John.
- All There in the Manual:
- The story Gabriel wrote for the liner notes.
- Rael's "guide to erogenous zones" in Counting Out Time, In-Universe.
- Artistic License Geography: Rael had previously been incarcerated at "Twenty-Second Street". There is no mental hospital or jail at that location, nor was there ever one there; it only makes sense if he is referring to an altercation with the police that had occurred there.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The fate of John/Rael at the end.
- Beneath the Earth: A large part of the plot takes place here.
- Bitter Almonds: From "Broadway Melody of 1974":The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand
There's a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond
- Body Horror: The Slippermen. The infamous costume Peter Gabriel wore in concerts was made to resemble a grotesque walking STD with huge swellings."His skin's all covered in slimy lumps
With lips that slide across each chin
His twisted limbs like rubber stumps
Are waved in welcome, say 'Please join in'"
- Boléro Effect: "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" makes use of this, starting with simple synthesizer chords with Peter Gabriel's vocals, then gradually layering in additional instrumental tracks and some additional vocal treatments courtesy of Brian Eno.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the synopsis of the album included in the liner notes, the narrator tells readers to "Keep your fingers out of my eye." It's likely that anyone holding the vinyl album has their fingers on the face of one of the characters on the outside cover.
- Brownface: On stage, Gabriel was heavily made up to perform Rael.
- But I Read a Book About It: In "Counting Out Time", Rael thinks he's really good at sex just because he read a book about erogenous zones. Emphasis on "thinks".
- Concept Album: See the description in the introduction to this article.
- Darker and Edgier: The musical, lyrical and conceptual tone of the work was deliberately meant to be this trope, as compared to the very pastoral, English, whimsical (if often very ironic) sounds and styles they were known for prior to the work. They always had dabbled in dark (or dark-humoured) themes and harder-rocking sounds, but The Lamb was a full change of pace from, say, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)".
- Dark Reprise: "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" is sort of a twisted reprise of the theme from the first song, mixed with part of the melody from "The Lamia".
- A Date with Rosie Palms: The final line of "Counting Out Time":Without you, mankind handkinds thru' the blues.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The album artwork, apart from the logo, is in black and white.
- Down the Rabbit Hole: Rael is chased by a "wall of death" that drops into Times Square. As the wall passes over him, he blacks out, and later re-awakens in a surreal world beneath New York City.
- The Ending Changes Everything
- Explosive Decompression: "Anyway":I could have been exploded in spaceDifferent orbits for my bones
- Gainax Ending: "it." doesn't seem to be about anything clearly related to the story, but the end of the story in the liner notes is pure crazy. Rael saves his brother John's life only to discover that he and John are actually the same person, they have an out-of-both-bodies experience, they are "outlined in yellow," and they and the scenery melt into purple haze. Figure that one out.
- One YouTube comment remarks the ending is about "having to destroy yourself in order to find a new [self]note and the joy that radiates afterwardnote . Almost like the Phoenix rising out of ashes".
- Get Out!: Punctuates the first verse of the Title Track:The Movie Palace is now undone,
The all-night watchmen have had their fun.
Sleeping cheaply on the midnight show,
It's the same old ending. Time to go—
- Instrumentals: "Hairless Heart", "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats", "Ravine". "Broadway Melody of 1974" isn't supposed to be, but thanks to an indexing error on most CD versions of the album, it often is. (It's intended to start with the line "Echoes of the Broadway Everglades", which is indexed on most CD versions as part of "Fly on a Windshield").
- Intercourse with You: "Counting Out Time."
- Ku Klux Klan: According to the "Broadway Melody of 1974", they "serve hot soul food, and the band plays "In the Mood".
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Broadway Melody of 1974" is supposed to start with the line "Echoes of the Broadway Everglades", although thanks to an indexing error on most CD versions of the album, it often doesn't. It's debatable whether this is a straight example of this trope due to Siamese Twin Songs.
- Meaningful Echo: Several musical cues reappear throughout the album. Most notably, the melody from the bridge of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is reused as the intro of "The Carpet Crawlers".
- There's also the beginning of "Back in NYC", which borrows from the beginning of "In The Cage", and the riff from "Broadway Melody of 1974" reappears without warning in "Lilywhite Lilith".
- Not to mention "The Light Dies Down on Broadway", which begins with motifs from "The Lamia" and turns into a full-blown Dark Reprise of the title track.
- Mind Screw: The main character's emasculation is a major plot point. Also, pretty much everything else.
- Mind Screwdriver: the story that Gabriel wrote for the liner notes. It still doesn't explain everything, though. For that, this site might help... probably.
- Precision F-Strike: "Back in NYC".You say I must be crazy, 'cause I don't care who I hit, who I hit
But I know it's me that's hitting out and I'm, I'm not full of shit
- One-Word Title: "Anyway", "Ravine", "it.".
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I'M RAAAAAEL!!!!"
- Rearrange the Song:
- "The Carpet Crawlers" was rerecorded for Turn It On Again: The Hits as "The Carpet Crawlers 1999" in... well... 1999. Notable for being the last time to date all five members who worked on this album — Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, and Collins — have performed together.
- "Fly on a Windshield"/"Broadway Melody of 1974" was performed as an instrumental piece in their 1976 tour, as well as the Genesis in Concert 1976 concert film.
- Rock Opera: One of the most famous.
- Sex Changes Everything: The Slippermen are an extremely literal example of this trope.
- Shirtless Scene: Peter Gabriel during the The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour.
- Shout-Out: Plenty of the songs' lyrics shout out or paraphrase popular standards or rock oldies of the '50's and '60's ("On Broadway", "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", "Needles and Pins", etc.). The first line of "The Colony of Slippermen" is "I wandered lonely as a cloud".
- Siamese Twin Songs: Most of Side 1 (the songs that aren't examples of this generally use Fading into the Next Song instead), the first three songs on Side 2, "Lilywhite Lilith" into "The Waiting Room", "Anyway" into "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist", "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" into "Riding the Scree", and "In the Rapids" into "it.". (So, roughly half the album, then.)
- Snakes Are Sexy: The Lamia, that seduce Rael into a rosewater pool. There's even a concert effect where snakelike props would drop in on cue.
- Spooky Painting: The Hipgnosis album cover shows a man (presumably Rael) who has jumped out of his painting to look at the other paintings next to him.
- Switching P.O.V.: The narration in the songs constantly switches back and forth from first person to third person.
- Take That!: Apparently, on various legs of the tour, Peter Gabriel (jokingly) compared the Slippermen to either bassist Mike Rutherford or drummer Phil Collins.
- Thieving Magpie: A raven plays a pivotal role in the story when it flies off with the yellow tube containing Rael's genitals.
- Title Track: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway".
- Tomato in the Mirror: We discover at the very end that Rael and his brother John whom he's spent the entire album chasing are actually the same person.Hang on, John! We're out of this at last
Something's changed, it's not your face
It's mine! It's mine!
- Two-Person Pool Party: Or in this case, Rael and the three Lamia.
- The Walrus Was Paul: Gabriel's liner notes do little to clear the Mind Screw.
- Wham Line: "Something's changed, it's not your face! It's mine! It's mine!"
- Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Rael is shown like this on the back cover.
- You Are Number 6: "Brother John is number nine", from "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging".